Just before leaving Brazil after a visit to Salvador, Bahia, where he met Brazilian president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the president of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), Mahmoud Abbas, witnessed the actions of the Palestinian community in the state of Rio Grande do Sul.
The Palestinian leader arrived in state capital Porto Alegre Saturday, November 21, and met with several local authorities, among them the governor Yeda Crusius, the mayor of Porto Alegre, José Fogaça, and the chairman of the Legislative Assembly, Ivan Pavan.
According to the Palestinian ambassador to Brasília (the Brazilian capital), Ibrahim Alzeben, who met with the PNA president, the authorities in Rio Grande do Sul told Abbas of the importance of the Palestinian community in the state and in the capital.
According to information supplied by the local government, the state houses approximately 20,000 people whose country of origin is Palestine. In his visit to Rio Grande do Sul, Abbas also met with members of this community.
In his meetings and in a press conference, Abbas praised the Brazilian pro-peace process policy and also discussed the technical agreement that the two countries signed last Friday, in Salvador, the capital of the state of Bahia.
The agreement will provide the foundation for greater collaboration between the two countries. Abbas stated, according to Alzeben, that this is going to be a good start for intensifying cooperation between Brazil and Palestine.
The president of Palestine was received by Yeda Crusius late Saturday afternoon at the Piratini Palace (seat of the state government). "This is a very important day for Rio Grande do Sul because we have the opportunity to talk to a very special man, a builder of world peace, who has proved throughout his life that he is a leader, who formulates and acts on behalf of peace," said Yeda, according to information disclosed by the press office of the state government.
The governor presented Abbas with the book Identidade (Identity), which tackles the ethnicities living in the state. She also gave him a replica of the Laçador (Roper) monument – a symbol of local tradition, situated near the Salgado Filho Airport, in Porto Alegre.
The municipality of Porto Alegre issued a decree acknowledging Abbas' importance and recognizing him as an official guest. "We live in a city that offers great conditions for multiethnic coexistence. Abu Mazen's life story is an example for us. His struggle for peace has been admired by politicians. The world has high hopes for him,' said the mayor, in a meeting with the Arab leader. Abbas is also known as Abu Mazen.
Abbas also visited the Legislative Assembly, where representative Pavan expressed solidarity towards the Palestinian people, according to information from the press office. "We hereby join the efforts for ending the aggression and arbitrary actions against the Palestinian people," said Ivan Pavan.
Abbas claimed, at the Assembly, that he believes in peaceful coexistence in the Holy Land. Pavan gave the Palestinian leader a set for drinking chimarrão (a typical local beverage), including a bowl, pump, and leather bag, as symbols of local culture.
The Palestinian is also going to visit Argentina, Chile, Venezuela and Paraguay. Aside from Alzeben, Abbas' visit to Brazil was also accompanied by the Palestinian foreign minister Riad Malki and the Brazilian ambassador to the PNA, Ligia Maria Scherer, among other advisors and authorities.
In addition to promoting cooperation, Abbas' trip had the objective of obtaining support to the Palestinian cause and to the acknowledgement of the Palestinian State by the United Nations.